One of the key roles of the DIZ is to examine programmes and projects that have been successfully tested or applied in ‘smart cities’ and assess their benefit to a geography such as the DIZ ie. a mixture of small urban market towns and rural surroundings that more closely reflects the economic and social reality of the rest of the UK.

The graphic illustrates some of the projects that the DIZ is exploring or has undertaken.

Funded by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) the Ultrafast GPs Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) project has delivered ‘full fibre’ broadband infrastructure to provide ultrafast digital connectivity, capable of speeds up to 1Gbps – up to 30 times faster than superfast broadband – to 74 GP surgery sites across Broxbourne, East Herts, Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford districts, helping to put them at the forefront of digital health care.

The £1.7m investment from the DCMS’s LFFN programme will enable GP services to potentially deliver more health care remotely, online and through digital applications. These are all tasks that became vitally important during the COVID-19 pandemic that made online, remote and digital access a necessity. The project has helped to make the local health providers more resilient in the future as well as providing increased capacity for online activity.

In addition, the new broadband network built to the surgeries will also support future demand for fibre broadband from the thousands of residential and business properties located in the local areas around the surgeries. This will support local people to make greater use of digital technology to access the health and care services they need as well as the wider benefits of enhanced high-speed connectivity.

In addition to the enhanced broadband capacity, the project aims to realise a number of other health benefits such as higher levels of residents able to book and undertake GP appointments online and manage

their own care plans; greater capacity to move acute health care into the community and away from the hospital through the increased use of wearable technology, the ability of health partners to undertake online case reviews including the sharing of high resolution scans and data files; and, the relief of pressure on A&E services enabling better, more focused care to be delivered to those emergency patients most in need of acute care.

The project has been developed in conjunction with Essex County Council’s Superfast Essex programme, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (WECCG) and Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Luton ICT Shared Services (HBLICT) with support from Hertfordshire County Council and all five district authorities. It was delivered on behalf of the local health partners by Openreach in partnership with Capita Updata and Redcentric and completed in September 2021.

For more information and to express an interest in getting involved with the realisation of the benefits of the project please contact Mike Warr at or on 01992 564472


The DIZ Executive Board has established sustainability and climate change, and in particular digital’s role in addressing these, as a priority area of focus for the years ahead.

Digital can enable us to #domoregood and positively address, not only the perceived negative environmental impacts of technology, but alos the drive to exponentially cut carbon emissions leading up to 2030.

The first step for the DIZ is the delivery of its ‘How Can Digital help Save The Planet?’ Smart place Seminar. Bringing together expert voices on digital and sustainability, the seminar will also launch development of a DIZ Digital Green Charter. this charter will create a set of principles and pledges that the public sector partners of the DIZ can sign up to and will guide the DIZ sustainability work programme.

The DIZ has worked with Mobile UK to develop a set of co-branded guidance documents around 5G use cases. these guides include ‘How 5G will help the environment’ and ‘How 5G can help meet the climate change challenge’

For more information please contact Mike Warr at or on 01992 564472

The DIZ has long held the ambition to be ‘the best connected place of is type’ in the UK.

Working alongside Superfast Essex and partners at Hertfordshire CC, the area has already attracted significant investment in its fixed broadband fibre infrastructure and has excellent levels of coverage of both superfast and gigabit-capable broadband connectivity.

Ensuring ubiquitous connectivity so that no-one and nowhere is left behind requires an holistic approach across all forms of connectivity technology, including mobile communications. The DIZ is keen to maximise the impact that 5G technology might have and to promote its benefits. The DIZ has developed with Mobile UK a suite of co-branded guidance documents on 5G and will use these to promote 5G’s benefits, not only to local communities but also, to local authorities who are required to consider the impact of 5G infrastructure when being planned and built.

The DIZ also supports the Superfast Essex ‘Be 5G Smart’ campaign which aims to raise awareness of #5G – the fifth generation of mobile internet, as well as addressing some of the myths and misunderstanding that have arisen around this new technology and show the benefits it can offer.

The DIZ is also supporting the DCMS Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator (DCIA) programme, which aims to make better use of public sector assets such as buildings and street lamps to support the rollout of mobile communication technology. A member of the DCIA Early Adoption Group, it is exploring the learning gained from the DCIA pilot projects and how this can be applied to promote better use of local assets.

For more information please contact Mike Warr at or on 01992 564472

The DIZ believes that, as digital continues to transform the way we work, play, shop and live, no-one should be left behind as a result of their particular circumstances.

Digital exclusion can occur in many ways and the DIZ will, wherever possible, support and develop interventions that can address this, with the ambition that everyone can become digitally included.

Working with partners in the community and voluntary sector at WECAN (West Essex Community Action Network), funding has been secured from NHS Charities to develop a digital platform that will address digital exclusion through:

  • the provision of reconditioned devices – laptops, PCs, smartphones etc. – for use by those most in need
  • the provision of digital skills support through a network of volunteers
  • the provision of connectivity through ‘paid for’ and donated packages of mobile data

The Digital Share Project is initially running as a pilot for two years  and will be placing a particular emphasis on providing tailored support to access digital for people experiencing poor mental health and those from minority ethnic communities. The platform will, however, be widely available to the wider public  and aspires to become a ‘one stop shop’ for those facing digital exclusion as well as those supporting and referring those in need.

For more information please contact Ali Firth – Digital Inclusion Project Lead on 07578 665659 or by emailing

WECAN are also delivering the following projects promoting technology solutions for those most in need:

  • Living Smart Homes – Using technology to help people remain independent in their own homes. Contact: Louise Gambardella 01371 878400 / 07883 102954
  • TEC Mates – TEC Mates is a programme to support the use and uptake of Digital Technology and Technology Enabled Care (TEC) products and services. Contact: Project Coordinator Sophie Davis on 03333 401727

Knowledge sharing and knowledge uplift have been priority areas for the DIZ work programme since our inception. The DIZ Smart Place Seminar series addresses key digital issues and brings together local and national experts to explore the challenges and opportunities of these topics.

Run for a number of years as ‘in-person’ events, these sessions have continued throughout and beyond the 2019/21 pandemic via online platforms. The seminars have covered topics such as infrastructure, collaboration, digital skills, digital inclusion and exclusion, as well as the digital opportunities arising out of the development of new garden towns.

The series will continue to support the DIZ work programme with sessions around digital sustainability and 5G connectivity and will always look to secure a strong line-up of respected speakers. To date, our seminars have been supported by speakers from the following organisations:

  • Arup
  • BT
  • Nesta
  • Virgin Media
  • NHS England
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Gigaclear
  • Samaritans
  • Carers First
  • Mydex
  • CGI
  • Micrsoft
  • Jacobs
  • Mobile UK
  • Volker Wessels
  • CAST
  • Citizens Online
  • Harlow College

You can find more details on our past events here and upcoming events here.

The DIZ has also delivered seminars as part of the Digital Leaders regular series of thought leadership events. We have delivered sessions on place-based approaches to digital, how digital can support the high street, the impact of digital throughout COVID-19 and the power of collaboration. We have, again, been supported by a range of excellent participants including:

  • Enterprise Nation
  • CGI
  • Ocado
  • EPUT NHS Foundation Trust
  • Maybe*
  • Digital Newcastle / Newcastle City Council
  • CVS Uttlesford
  • Harlow College
  • West Essex CCG

For more information about the ongoing DIZ events programme please contact Mike Warr at or on 01992 564472

Enabling our partners to engage with and lead key workstreams for the DIZ is a vital part of how the DIZ works and how we are able to achieve all that we do. Special Interest Groups (SIGs) allow partners to identify areas of specific digital challenge and opportunity and where they might have a particular focus or interest.

The DIZ Town Centres SIG was the first such group to be established and is led by officers and members from Broxbourne BC and Uttlesford DC. With all high streets facing a massive

challenge to their survival from online retailing and changing shopper habits, as well as the ongoing and lasting impacts of the COIVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the group are keen to explore what opportunities  might exist for digital technology and innovation to be a catalyst for the future prosperity of our high streets, supporting them to thrive.

Having conducted a baseline survey of all the DIZ high streets the group coordinated a procurement exercise across all five districts of the DIZ which resulted in a single footfall monitoring application being adapted. This will help the team and partners to better understand who is visiting their high streets, how, why and for how long. In turn, this insight will enable them to shape future interventions appropriate to each town centre.

The work programme of the group is looking at place-making apps and how they might be developed across the DIZ; what digital technology is used in our car parks and the opportunities they bring; and, whether localised online shopping apps can be adopted in such a way as to support high streets rather than threaten them.

For more information please contact Mike Warr at or on 01992 564472

More details to follow.

For more information please contact Mike Warr at or on 01992 564472